Three Actions Taken When Faced with an Armed Intruder

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In a recent Firestorm webinar, Jim Satterfield (President/CEO/Co-Founder) sat down with two former Secret Service agents to discuss the topic of responding to an armed intruder. Jason Russell, Founder/President and CEO of Secure Education Consultants (SEC) and Marc Connolly, Executive Vice President, provided insights based upon their experience in the Secret Service and law enforcement.

No one wants to see the name of their organization, or their child’s school in the news due to an episode of violence. We cannot, however, ignore the possibility that disaster and violence can strike at any time – whether it’s in a loved one’s workplace, or your own. Don’t fall victim to disaster denial. Firestorm recognized that identifying behaviors of concern before a crisis strikes can significantly alter the outcome of a crisis. Our Behavioral Risk Threat Assessment (BERTHA®) process empowers organizations to identify, assess, manage and monitor employees and/or students exhibiting behaviors of concern, long before they pose a threat of violence to themselves or others. Another key aspect of preventing incidents of violence are physical security protocols and site assessments – which were reviewed during the webinar and summarized within the corresponding brief.

But what happens when you are confronted with an armed intruder? Jason and Marc identified three avenues to take if you ever find yourself in that situation.

When faced with an armed intruder, the three actions are: evacuate, secure or confront. Without training, people pursue the option they are most comfortable with, as opposed to the most logical option for that specific scenario. The three actions must conceptually be understood to make the right decision in the moment. The three responses – evacuate, secure and confront – differ from the common ‘flee, hide or fight’ options.

Evacuate: Leave the area and distance yourself from the problem. Evacuating provides a sense of control more than the common ‘flee’ or ‘run’ option. Evacuate also includes clearer direction than ‘run’ or ‘flee,’ such as where to evacuate to.

Secure: Locate cover or concealment, whether this means a locked or barricaded door. Within that locked room, find another barricade to add further protection. This option differs from simply hiding under a table or desk; hiding does not provide protection. ‘Hide’ comes with its own potential for confusion: remember the students at UCLA who could not secure the doors to a classroom in which they had chosen to hide?

Confront: Evacuate and secure may not be viable options during an incident. The last response is confrontation. In an active shooter or armed intruder situation, you must think about confrontation.

If confronting an intruder is the only option, you must know how to defend and protect yourself and those around you.

The last headline we want to see in the media is one of disaster or violence. But it is our mission to help organizations and schools create a culture of preparedness. This involves identifying if there are holes in crisis plans, appropriately fixing the gaps and training for when incidents do occur. Not only believing, but acting on the premise that a crisis can strike your organization is key. React out of knowledge before a crisis strikes, not out of fear after a crisis occurs.

Contact organizations like Firestorm and SecureEd (SEC) if you are not sure where to begin, or are looking for assistance in site assessments, program reviews, crisis planning and any other preparedness needs.

Read Jason and Marc’s insights by downloading the brief Are You Prepared for an Active Shooter? Or listen to one of the webinar recordings.

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